Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology has been proven in the commercial sector since the early 1990's. Today's rapid advancement in mobile telephone reliability and power management capabilities exemplifies the effectiveness of the SDR technology for the modern communications market. In contrast, the foundations of transponder technology presently qualified for satellite applications were developed during the early space program of the 1960's. Conventional transponders are built to a specific platform and must be redesigned for every new bus while the SDR is adaptive in nature and can fit numerous applications with no hardware modifications. A SDR uses a minimum amount of analog / Radio Frequency (RF) components to up/down-convert the RF signal to/from a digital format. Once the signal is digitized, all processing is performed using hardware or software logic. Typical SDR digital processes include; filtering, modulation, up/down converting and demodulation. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Programmable Ultra Lightweight System Adaptable Radio (PULSAR) leverages existing MSFC SDR designs and commercial sector enhanced capabilities to provide a path to a radiation tolerant SDR transponder. These innovations (1) reduce the cost of NASA Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Deep Space standard transponders, (2) decrease power requirements, and (3) commensurately reduce volume. A second pay-off is the increased SDR flexibility by allowing the same hardware to implement multiple transponder types simply by altering hardware logic - no change of hardware is required - all of which will ultimately be accomplished in orbit. Development of SDR technology for space applications will provide a highly capable, low cost transponder to programs of all sizes. The MSFC PULSAR Project results in a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 low-cost telemetry system available to Smallsat and CubeSat missions, as well as other platforms. This paper documents the continued development and verification/validation of the MSFC SDR, called PULSAR, which contributes to advancing the state-of-the-art in transponder design - directly applicable to the SmallSat and CubeSat communities. This paper focuses on lessons learned on the first sub-orbital flight (high altitude balloon) and the follow-on steps taken to validate PULSAR. A sounding rocket launch, currently planned for 03/2015, will further expose PULSAR to the high dynamics of sub-orbital flights. Future opportunities for orbiting satellite incorporation reside in the small satellite missions (FASTSat, CubeSat. etc.).